Bulgarian Orthodoxy in Crisis

July 25, 2004 by  
Filed under News

July 25, 2004: Bulgaria should not allow religion and policy to be mixed, Parliamentary Speaker Ognyan Gerdhzikov said. In an interview for the private bTV channel Gerzdhikov said the new law used as a base for the July 21 church raids was voted in 2002 aiming to overcome the schism of the Bulgarian Church. Last Wednesday police stormed through 250 churches countrywide and detained many priests in a controversial raid to restore proprietorship of official Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Gerdzhikov pointed out that the Prosecutor’s order for the raid was legal, underlining, however, that the measures taken were not proper. The problem following the schism of the Bulgarian Church has established two Orthodox community centers, one headed by Patriarch Maxim and the other claiming he had been “appointed” by ex-communist regime.

July 24, 2004: Current arguments in the Bulgarian Church are due to real estate ownership according to Justice Minister Anton Stankov. Stankov explained that the police actions were legal. On July 21 police stormed through 250 churches countrywide and detained many priests in a controversial raid to restore proprietorship of official Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The problem following the schism of the Bulgarian Church has established two Orthodox community centers, one headed by Patriarch Maxim and the other claiming he had been “appointed” by ex-communist regime.

July 23, 2004: The Supreme Cassation Court initiated legal proceedings against the so-called Alternative Synod of Inokentiy. One of the charges is illegal possession of property. The case has been referred to the National Security Service. Meanwhile, Inkentiy and priests from his synod demanded the resignation of chief prosecutor Nikola Filchev because of his interference in church activities. The priests met with MPs. However, no MPs from the National Movement Simeon II (NMSII) and from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) attended the meeting. Inokentiy said that he struggled for the churches, not for the church properties. Bulgarian ex PM and leader of Democrats for Strong Bulgaria Ivan Kostov read a declaration of the United Democratic Forces saying that some Bulgarian state institutions violate basic human rights and freedoms. MP from the NMSII Borislav Ralchev tried to deny the attacks against the Government saying that the issue was not about state interference in the church activities. “There is no alternative synod. There is just one synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church”, leader of the parliamentary faction of the New Time Miroslav Sevlievski said. The church, the Holy Synod and Bulgarian Patriarch Maxim have to decide on the solution of the problem, BSP MP Tatyana Doncheva said.

July 22, 2004: Priests from the dissident clergy headed by Metropolitan Inokentii served a mass in font of the Saint Sofia church in Bulgaria’s capital. The holy men protest against yesterday’s controversial police raids to restore proprietorship of official Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Later on Thursday representatives of the dissident clergy headed by Metropolitan Inokentii met with MPs from all Parliamentary Groups except for the Bulgarian socialists. The holy men urged for the resignation of Bulgaria’s Chief Prosecutor Nikola Filchev. Police stormed through 250 churches countrywide and detained many priests Wednesday. The problem following the schism of Bulgarian Church has established two Orthodox community centers, one headed by Patriarch Maxim and the other claiming he had been “appointed” by ex-communist regime.

July 21, 2004: Bulgarian policemen scuffle with a priest as they detain him Wednesday at St Parashkeva church in Sofia July. Police tried to force dissident clergy from 18 local churches in an escalating schism in Bulgarian Orthodox community. Police stormed through 250 churches countrywide and detained many priests Wednesday in a controversial raid to restore proprietorship of official Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The problem following the schism of Bulgarian Church, dating three years ago, has established two Orthodox community centers, one headed by Patriarch Maxim and the other claiming he had been “appointed” by ex-communist regime. In Sofia alone, priests were forcefully dragged out of 18 churches alongside present laypeople. The dissident clergy headed by Father Inokentii is determined to stay vigil in front of their churches until allowed back into them. arises.